In just days, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas will be at the epicenter of one of the most widely anticipated debates of the 2016 election year. The final presidential debate, to be held Oct. 19, at the Thomas & Mack Center, has been a rich source of learning, particularly for students in the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs.
Live from the Media Center
Broadcast journalism students in Gary Larson’s JOUR 490: Special Topics, Debate and Election Coverage class, will report live from the presidential debate media center, working alongside major international news networks, for the student-news program Studio G. Studio G is produced by Larson, an associate professor of journalism, and students in the television studios located in the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs. Broadcast journalism students, faculty and staff will provide approximately 10 hours of live coverage during the week of the final presidential debate, including five hours on debate day. Stories will also be reported in Spanish and will air during Studio G programming and on debate day.
A student social media team will be dedicated to sharing the coverage and engaging viewers. The media team includes Larson, Jennifer Ream, interim director of UNLV-TV; Dan Grimes, UNLV-TV engineer; and students Megan Eisenhauer, Briona Haney, Idania Ramirez, and Jennifer Hurtado.
On The Air
Frank Mueller, radio broadcast journalism professor and general manager of KUNV 91.5 FM radio, is overseeing 11 journalism students who are covering various topics related to the presidential debate for KUNV radio. Two students, Audrey Crawford and Lauren Anderson, will report live from the presidential debate media center on debate day.
The Presidential Debate also has inspired UNLV’s first podcast. Mueller’s students worked with Katy Griffin, social media strategist for UNLV’s University Communications office to create the UNLV: Diverse, Daring, and Different this fall to highlight UNLV’s recent transformations. It’s hosted by four students with contributions by a dozen more. Follow along on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcast subscription service.
Reporting and Storytelling
Among the approximately 60 journalism students involved in the debate coverage, about 30 are in the broadcast classes and the other half reside in Gregory Borchard’s JOUR 310 Advanced Reporting class.
“The Advanced Reporting class will take advantage of the enormous opportunity we have to build journalistic experience through coverage of the final presidential debate,” Borchard, a professor of journalism, said. “In addition to reviewing the content, style, and mechanics of sound storytelling, students have already begun following campaigns in general and events on campus in particular to provide a range of content on issues of importance beyond the UNLV campus alone.”
Engaging in the Issues
Greenspun College of Urban Affairs faculty, students and alumni have been engaged in presidential debate activities since the beginning of the year. The College of Urban Affairs, UNLV Libraries, and the UNLV Presidential Debate Campus Engagement Committee presented the UNLV Presidential Debate Lecture Series featuring five prominent U.S. scholars who study, teach, research, and publish on various topics related to presidential debates. The scholars also served as guest lecturers, interacting with undergraduates and graduate students in communication studies courses covering the history and criticism of televised presidential debates. Topics covered politeness in debates, social media’s use in viewing the event, why candidates are nervous about participating, and a look back at the debates between President Barrack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
Other activities in the college included:
- The award-winning UNLV debate team hosted two primary presidential debate watch events and panel discussions for students, faculty, staff and the Southern Nevada community. The Democratic Primary Debate watch event was held Feb. 11 and the Republican Primary Debate watch event was held March 10, with a panel of UNLV and community experts providing post-debate analysis at each event.
- Several students from each of the Greenspun Urban Affairs’ academic programs were invited to attend the MSNBC live town hall discussion with Democratic candidates on Feb. 18. Tianna Winters, now a Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies graduate, was selected to ask a question directly to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
- Students also worked for MSNBC in the production of the town hall forum and behind the scenes for the network’s coverage of the Nevada caucuses.
- Jacob Thompson, director of UNLV’s debate team, delivered the keynote address on why presidential debates are essential to the democratic process at UNLV’s Welcome Day for new students on Aug. 26.
- The UNLV Debate Team hosted a watch event Sept. 26 for Clark County School District debate team students and their coaches. Close to 250 people attended the event. Michael Eisenstadt, a communication studies alum and former UNLV debate team assistant coach, will return to campus as a panelist for the second presidential debate watch event on Oct. 9.
Follow along: Watch journalism students’ live stream coverage on KUNV-TV, follow on Twitter @UNLVTV, or tune into KUNV Radio. And join the conversation with using hashtags: #UNLVPresDebate and #UNLVegasdebate2016.